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Nurse Practitioner Robyn StraderYouTube/Screenshot

(LifeSiteNews) — Pharmacy chain CVS settled a lawsuit with a Baptist nurse practitioner who sued the company after it took away her religious exemption and fired her over her refusal to distribute abortifacient contraceptives.

“First Liberty Institute and Boyden Gray PLLC today announced they reached a settlement with CVS Health Corporation and MinuteClinic, L.L.C. on behalf of Robyn Strader,” the religious freedom legal group stated in a news release.

The group did not release the details of the settlement. It filed the lawsuit in January 2023.

Strader is “a nurse practitioner in Texas who sought a religious accommodation from prescribing contraceptive medication that she believed could end the development or life of an unborn child.”

She had worked at CVS for 6 1/2 years as a nurse practitioner with a religious exemption that allowed her not to prescribe abortifacient contraceptives. It followed a 2021 decision by CVS that all clinics must provide “treatment for pregnancy prevention,” according to the lawsuit.

Strader brought up her religious beliefs during the hiring process. However, in 2021, CVS decided to get rid of all religious exemptions, according to the initial Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint.

“I believe that all human life is created in God’s image and should be protected,” Strader wrote in her complaint. “For this reason, I cannot participate in facilitating an abortion or participate in facilitating contraceptive use that could prevent the implantation of an embryo, cause an abortion or contribute to infertility.”

Hormonal contraceptives such as “the pill” can act as an abortifacient by making the uterus inhospitable to an embryo. This is a fact often acknowledged by medical providers. For example, the Cleveland Clinic states one way “the pill” works to prevent pregnancy (in fact, to terminate a pregnancy) is to “(t)hin the lining of your uterus so that a fertilized egg can’t attach and grow there.”

A “fertilized egg” is a distinct, living human being that has never existed before with DNA that is different from its mother and father.

First Liberty attorney Stephanie Taub said she is “hopeful that companies across the country will recognize the religious liberty of their employees and work to protect those rights.”

“We are thrilled that Robyn was able to reach a resolution with CVS,” Taub also said in the news release.

CVS has fired other pro-life Christians

First Liberty is representing another nurse practitioner in Florida who is suing CVS for a similar reason.

CVS fired Catholic nurse practitioner Gudrun Kristofersdottir, an eight-year employee, because she also declined to prescribe abortifacient contraceptives to customers. “On the rare occasion that a patient would seek such a prescription, she would refer them to another CVS MinuteClinic provider,” the January 2024 lawsuit stated.

Kristofersdottir’s case, and those of similarly situated individuals, may be bolstered by a 2023 Supreme Court decision.

The Supreme Court ruled in June 2023 in the Groff v. DeJoy case that employers must prove an “undue hardship” if they are going to deny accommodation requests, as LifeSiteNews previously reported. First Liberty represented postal worker Gerald Groff, who sued after the U.S. Postal Service tried to force him to work on Sundays. The legal group cited the Groff case in its Kristofersdottir complaint.

A University of Nebraska law professor and legal scholar on religious liberty told LifeSiteNews the Groff case raised the bar for corporations who decline religious accommodations.

“Employers will likely be much more willing to grant religious accommodations to employees of faith after Groff in order to avoid litigation under this strong standard of protection,” Professor Rick Duncan told LifeSiteNews in January in the context of the Kristofersdottir lawsuit.

A federal judicial clerk specifically commented on the CVS policy and predicted the company would need to revoke its blanket opposition to exemptions.

“CVS’s automatic revocation of each plaintiff’s accommodation appears to violate Groff’s prohibition of discrimination against accommodation,” Sarah Child wrote in a law review paper. “These denials require a more fulsome explanation of substantial costs to be viable under Groff.”

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